IRL: Oldsmobile Aims for Third Championship

OLDSMOBILE AIMS FOR THIRD STRAIGHT IRL MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP IRL Aurora V8 Starts Third IRL Season with Perfect Record ORLANDO, Fla. - The longest active winning streak in a major motorsports series will be on the line at the...


IRL Aurora V8 Starts Third IRL Season with Perfect Record

ORLANDO, Fla. - The longest active winning streak in a major motorsports series will be on the line at the TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on January 24. Oldsmobile is aiming to extend the IRL Aurora V8's perfect record in IRL competition to 20 consecutive victories in the season-opening round of the 11-race open-wheel series.

Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 has raced to 19 straight victories since the Pep Boys Indy Racing League introduced its naturally aspirated engine formula in January 1997. Competing against Nissan's Infiniti Indy, Oldsmobile engines have won every pole, led 99% of the laps, and swept the Driver, Team, and Rookie championships for two straight years. With 26 of the 28 drivers entered in the TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 using IRL Aurora V8 engines, the odds will be in Oldsmobile's favor when the 1999 season gets underway.

In the three months since the 1998 IRL season finale in Las Vegas, GM engineers and independent engine builders have continued to develop and refine the IRL Aurora V8 engine package. The results of their efforts will be apparent when the green flag signals the start of the IRL's third season with production-based powerplants.

Continuous Improvement

"Our objective is to continually improve the IRL Aurora V8," said Joe Negri, GM Motorsports IRL/Road Racing Group manager. "Our primary focus is on reliability and durability.

"We know that the competition isn't standing still," Negri added. "The IRL Aurora V8 has established the performance standard for the series, so we need to be prepared to introduce future enhancements to maintain Oldsmobile's competitive edge."

Track-Tested Technology

With two years of track development and more than 84,000 racing miles under its belt, Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 has become a refined and reliable powerplant. "The major improvements from engine tuning have already been realized, and now we're looking for much smaller gains," commented GM Motorsports engineer Ed Keating. "We are optimistic that our ongoing development projects will continue to yield performance improvements without sacrificing reliability. Of course, it will be a whole new ball game in 2000 when the new 3.5-liter engine formula is introduced and a new development cycle begins."

Speeds in preseason testing on the Walt Disney World one-mile oval have surpassed the fastest times at last year's event. Scott Goodyear turned the fastest official lap during open testing at 169.819 mph in Pennzoil Panther Racing's Oldsmobile-powered G Force, eclipsing the 166.013 mph track record set by Tony Stewart in January 1997. Speeds have climbed in spite of an IRL rule revision that reduced the maximum engine speed from 10,500 rpm in 1998 to 10,300 rpm in 1999.

"The 200 rpm reduction in maximum engine speed should improve engine durability slightly, but it won't have much affect on power," Keating predicted.

Supply and Demand

Oldsmobile has produced more than 400 IRL Aurora V8 engine blocks to date. The demand for IRL engine components remains strong, and GM Motorsports has bolstered its production and distribution system to ensure that engine builders receive the parts they need to service IRL teams.

"At this point in the development of the IRL Aurora V8, there are no issues with the reliability of the major components," reports GM Motorsports engineer Roger Allen. "Over the winter we have concentrated on building up an inventory of parts for the 1999 season. We are also ordering parts in anticipation of the 3.5-liter formula in 2000."

Setting the Pace

Oldsmobile will begin its fourth year as the Official Pace Car of the IRL series at the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World. An Aurora luxury performance sedan, the flagship of the Oldsmobile fleet, will set the pace in the season-opening race. As in previous years, the Aurora Pace Car requires no engine modifications - its standard 250hp Aurora V8 has the performance credentials to pace an Indy car race in production trim.

The Aurora will share pace car duties with two other Oldsmobile brands in 1999. The Intrigue sports sedan and Alero coupe will set the pace at selected IRL events.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Scott Goodyear
Teams Panther Racing